The Unemployment Shock Continues

The Unemployment Shock Continues

It took just three weeks to hit the number of U.S. unemployment claims that were reached in forty-four weeks during the Great Recession. And that doesn’t include people unable to access antiquated and overwhelmed state application systems.

This morning, the Department of Labor released unemployment claims data for the week ending April 4. Nationally, there were 6,606,000 new claims—almost matching last week’s totals. Over the past three weeks, over 16 million Americans have filed for unemployment. This avalanche of new claims is unprecedented: from the onset to the Great Recession in June 2007, it took forty-four weeks to log that many new jobless claims. And these recent numbers do not account for those unable to access antiquated and overwhelmed state application systems.

The graphic below shows the history of new claims, by state, from the 1987 to the present—the last three weeks highlighted by the data callouts.


Colin Gordon is a professor of history at the University of Iowa. He is the author of, most recently, Growing Apart: A Political History of American Inequality and Citizen Brown: Race, Democracy, and Inequality in the St. Louis Suburbs.


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