26 million Americans have lost jobs in the past 5 weeks

Using part of the Pittsburgh International Airport parking lot that has been left vacant by the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank load boxes of food into cars during a drive-up food distribution Wednesday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Using part of the Pittsburgh International Airport parking lot that has been left vacant by the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank load boxes of food into cars during a drive-up food distribution Wednesday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Just over 4.4 million people filed claims for unemployment benefits across the nation for the week ending April 18, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday, down a bit from the 5.2 million who filed in the previous week.

In the past five weeks, some 26 million Americans have found themselves unemployed.

Ohio has reported 109,369 initial jobless claims to the federal government for the same week.

In Montgomery County, 4,988 people filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending April 18. In Butler County, 3,430 people filed, while 1,920 people filed claims in Warren County. In Greene County, 1,138 residents filed claims.

In Miami County, there were 1,121 new claims. In Clark County, 1,378 residents filed for benefits.

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“While the numbers are slowly moving downward, it is clear that the continued shut down of most of the U.S. economy continues to have a dramatic impact on the labor force,” said Nationwide Insurance Senior Economist Ben Ayers.

Claims should continue to move down from here, especially as the small business loans from the Payroll Protection Program ensures that businesses to keep, or even rehire, workers to their payrolls, Ayers added.

The number of initial jobless claims filed in Ohio over the last five weeks stands at nearly 1 million, or 964,566, the state’s Department of Job and Family Services.

“To put that in perspective, the total for the last five weeks of claims is 249,054 more than the combined total of 715,512 for the last two years,” the state said Wednesday.

ODJFS asks individuals to file their claims online at unemployment.ohio.gov.

The April jobs report, to be released May 8, will be “historically bad,” said PNC Bank Chief Economist Gus Faucher.

“Although not all of the claim filings will result in measured unemployment, job losses from the survey of employers will be well above 10 million, by far the highest number on record,” Faucher said in an email. “And the unemployment rate is set to jump above 10 percent, above the high during the Great Recession a decade ago.”

The 4-week moving average of national jobless claims was 5,786,500, an increase of 280,000 from the previous week’s revised average.

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Ohio has among the highest unemployment rates for workers covered by unemployment insurance, at 11.6 percent, the Labor Department said.

Similarly situated states include Michigan (17.4 percent), Rhode Island (15 percent), Nevada (13.7 percent), Georgia (13.6 percent), Washington (13.2 percent), New Hampshire (12.2 percent), Minnesota (11.9 percent) and New York (11.9).

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About 5.2 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in the week that ended April 11, leading to about 22 million Americans total newly unemployed (at that time), due at least in part to government-imposed business shut-downs and stay-at-home orders.

The global pandemic has triggered a massive amount of misery.

Economists had expected a similar number to be filed in the most recent week, ending April 18.

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Among the most recent regional WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining) notices, Urbana University has alerted the state to its plans to close, affecting 321 employees.

The closure will be permanent, the university said in its letter, dated Tuesday, to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

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