Unemployment Jumps Dramatically Due To Coronavirus Pandemic

Texas hit especially hard

April 6, 2020

A staggering 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks, as the coronavirus crisis ramps up in the U.S. 

Last week, 6.6 million Americans claimed unemployment insurance, breaking the 3.3 million record from the week before by twice as much. 

In February, the unemployment rate was historically low at 3.5 percent. But on Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted a jobless rate that exceeded 10 percent for the second quarter of the fiscal year, though they warned that these predictions are uncertain. 

These unprecedented figures don’t include self-employed workers because they are ineligible for unemployment benefits. However, the CARES Act passed by the U.S. government in March will soon extend these benefits to independent contractors. States are waiting on direction from the Department of Labor to implement this program.

In Texas, unemployment claims have risen more than 1,600 percent in the last two weeks. 155,657 filed the week ending on March 21 and 275,597 the week ending on March 28, which dwarf numbers from the worst week of the Great Recession and the week that Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. This high volume has caused the Texas Workforce Commission’s website to crash and phone lines to jam with calls.

“Just know that you’re not going to be denied your claim just because you’re having a hard time getting through,” Governor Greg Abbott said Tuesday.

Texas’ economy is in an especially difficult position because it has taken blows from both the coronavirus pandemic and a drop in oil prices caused by decreased demand and an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

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