Cumulative Job Losses Show Labor Market Devastation

by Robert Hughes
The American Institute for Economic Research

Initial claims for unemployment insurance totaled 3.8 million for the week ending April 25, marking the sixth consecutive week of massive, record-shattering layoffs, and dwarfing the previous high of 695,000 in October 1982. However, on a somewhat positive note, the latest tally is the fourth week of declines in the number of initial claims since the 6.87 million claims during the week of March 28 (see chart).

To help put these numbers in perspective, during the Great Recession in 2008-09, total payroll job losses were 8.8 million over 25 months versus the current 6-week total of 30.3 million initial claims (see chart). The peak number of unemployed people for the Great Recession, as measured in the household survey portion of the monthly Employment Situation report, actually occurred in October 2009, four months after the official end of the recession, and was 15.4 million (see chart).

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