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By: Beth Mace  |  April 09, 2020

Initial Jobless Claims Remain High at 6.6 million in the Week Ending April 4

Economic Trends  |  Seniors Housing  |  Workforce

The Department of Labor reported that 6,606,000 Americans filed for unemployment insurance benefits in the week ending April 4, 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic caused businesses to reduce or furlough their workforces. This was a very slight decline of 261,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised record high level of 6,868,000. The speed and scale of the job losses is unprecedented. In the past three weeks, more than 16 million people have filed claims. At its worse during the Great Recession, there were 665,000 first-time claims filed in the week ended March 28, 2009. That was second only to the week ended October 2, 1982, when 695,000 first-time claims were filed.

Continuing claims for regular benefits, which are reported with an extra week’s lag, rose 4.4 million to 7.5 million.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending March 28 were in California, New York, Michigan, Florida, Georgia Texas and New Jersey.

This week’s increase in unemployment claims marks the third consecutive week of surging jobless claims and provides a window into the magnitude of the economic downturn into which we are solidly moving. Economists from a Wall Street Journal survey now project a spike in the jobless rate to 13% by June from its 50 year low of 3.5% as recently as February. In March, the rate had already increased to 4.4%. This same group of economists predict that real GDP will contract at an annual rate of 25% in the second quarter. In March, the expectation had been a decline of merely 0.1%. For the full year of 2020, GDP is projected to decline by 4.9%. In 2019 it grew by 2.3%.

In response to the expected sharp slowdown in the economy, the President signed into law a $2 trillion economic stimulus rescue package that broadly expands unemployment benefits. Independent contractors and self-employed individuals are now eligible, at least in some cases. More fiscal stimulus packages are expected to be enacted in the coming months to further blunt the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About Beth Mace

Beth Burnham Mace is the Chief Economist and Director of Outreach at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC). Prior to joining the staff at NIC, she served as a member of the NIC Board of Directors for 7 years and chaired NIC’s Research Committee. Ms. Mace was also a Director at AEW Capital Management and worked in the AEW Research Group for 17 years. While at AEW, Ms. Mace provided primary research support to the organization’s core and value-added investment strategies and provided research-related underwriting in acquisition activity and asset and portfolio management decisions. Prior to joining AEW in 1997, Ms. Mace spent ten years at Standard & Poor’s DRI/McGraw-Hill as the Director of the Regional Information Service with responsibility for developing forecasts of economic, demographic, and industry indicators for 314 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. Prior to working at DRI, she spent three years as a Regional Economist at the Crocker Bank in San Francisco. Ms. Mace has also worked at the National Commission on Air Quality, the Brookings Institution and Boston Edison. Ms. Mace is a member of the National Association of Business Economists (NABE), ULI’s Senior Housing Council, the Urban Land Institute and New England Women in Real Estate (NEWIRE/CREW). In 2014, she was appointed a fellow at the Homer Hoyt Institute and was awarded the title of a “Woman of Influence” in commercial real estate by Real Estate Forum Magazine and Globe Street. Ms. Mace is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College (B.A.) and the University of California (M.S.). She has also earned The Certified Business Economist™ (CBE), which is the certification in business economics and data analytics developed by NABE. The CBE documents a professional’s accomplishment, experience, abilities, and demonstrates mastery of the body of knowledge critical in the field of economics and data analytics.

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