• Thomas Parker

Jobless claims reach 26 million since virus

Another 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits this week, bringing the total since the coronavirus pandemic caused government-mandated shutdowns to about 26 million, wiping out all job gains since the 2008 recession.

In just one month, all job gains since the Great Recession have disappeared, according to new data released Thursday by the Department of Labor. The economy had created around 22 million jobs since 2010, during a historic decade of economic expansion that came to an abrupt end in February.

“It is very easy with these numbers to get to 20% unemployment,” said David G. Blanchflower, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College.

The talk of 20% unemployment comes as President Trump and some states are signaling that they may begin reopening certain areas that are relatively unaffected by the virus.

In addition, new legislation would replenish the Paycheck Protection Program fund to help small businesses, though many businesses missed out on the initial $350 billion funding assistance.

At the White House this week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he doesn’t expect there will be more PPP money available after the next round is exhausted. “We would expect this is the last tranche,” he told reporters.

This week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state’s unemployment website “collapsed.” In Florida, there is a backlog of hundreds of thousands of applications for benefits.

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