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How Many Americans Are On Unemployment

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Many Workers Remained Sidelined With Job Losses Concentrated In Low

$600 In Weekly Unemployment Benefits Ends For Many Americans

The unemployment rate jumped in April 2020 to a level not seen since the 1930s and still stood at 4.8 percent in September 2021, compared with 3.5 percent in February 2020. The official unemployment rate, however, understates current job losses.

While the economy has added jobs in recent months, there were still 5.0 million fewer jobs in September 2021 than in February 2020. The majority of jobs lost in the crisis have been in industries that pay low average wages, with the lowest-paying industries accounting for 30 percent of all jobs but 56 percent of the jobs lost from February 2020 to September 2021, according to the latest month of Labor Department employment data. Jobs were down nearly twice as much in low-paying industries as in medium-wage industries and more than six times as much as in high-wage industries during this period.

Black and Latino workers have experienced a far slower jobs recovery than white workers reflecting historical patterns rooted in structural racism. Some 7.9 percent of Black workers and 6.3 percent of Latino workers were unemployed in September, compared to 4.2 percent of white workers. Workers who were born outside the United States have experienced larger job losses than U.S.-born workers.

When family members are considered, some 24.1 million people in September, including 6.3 million children, lived in a family where at least one adult did not have paid work in the last week because of unemployment or the pandemic, we estimate.

The Number Of Involuntary Part

People who work part time for economic reasons, often referred to as involuntary part-time workers, worked less than 35 hours per week but would have preferred full-time employment.14 They mainly worked a reduced number of hours because of unfavorable business conditions or their inability to find full-time work. Involuntary part-time workers are often described as underemployed.

Note: Q1 = first quarter, Q2 = second quarter, Q3 = third quarter, and Q4 = fourth quarter.

The number of involuntary part-time workers increased by 2.2 million over the year, averaging 6.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, which represented 4.3 percent of total employment, compared with 2.7 percent of employment the previous year. This measure of the underemployed reached an all-time high of 10.2 million in the second quarter of 2020, with essentially all of the increase occurring among those working part time because of slack work. The number of people who could only find part-time work declined by 156,000 over the year, dropping to 1.1 million in 2020.

Surge In Unemployment Benefits

These enhancements, when combined with unemployment levels not seen since the Great Depression, led to a surge in total unemployment pay in April.

States and the federal government paid $48.4 billion in total unemployment benefits in April, according to Treasury Department statistics.

The data are the first concrete signal of the scope of unemployment aid that reached Americans last month amid the economic downturn, Shambaugh said.

We won’t have a clear picture of how many Americans received the aid until the government releases additional numbers in a few weeks, he said.

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That’s partly a function of unemployment benefits being more generous now and there being higher unemployment rates than during the last recession.

The relief law boosted jobless pay by $600 a week, in addition to benefits already provided by states. That increase accounted for more than half or $27 billion of the spending in April, according to the Brookings analysis, published Wednesday.

The unemployment rate also hit 14.7% in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By comparison, the Great Recession saw unemployment levels approaching 10%.

More than 36 million people have filed for unemployment benefits over the past two months.

May’s total unemployment payout could be much larger.

“We’re still on an upward trajectory,” Shambaugh said. “There’s every indication we’ll put out a lot more money in May than in April.”

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Roughly 1 In 4 Young Workers Were Unemployed In The Second Quarter Of 2020

In terms of the increase in the unemployment rate, the labor market disruption in the early months of the pandemic was greatest among younger workers. For people ages 16 to 24, for example, the unemployment rate jumped to 24.2 percent in the second quarter of 2020, an increase of 15.9 percentage points from the fourth quarter of 2019. By the fourth quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate for people ages 16 to 24 was back down to 12.0 percent, albeit still 3.7 percentage points higher than it was at the end of 2019. This is largely a reflection of younger workers being more likely than older workers to be employed in food preparation and serving related occupations, an occupational group hit particularly hard at the onset of the pandemic. Younger workers are also more likely to be employed part time and, as previously mentioned, employment declined more sharply among part-time workers in the early stages of the recession.

Employment for people ages 16 to 24 fell by 4.9 million, or 25.1 percent, from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2020. Employment for this age group rebounded by 3.7 million from the second quarter to the fourth quarter of 2020, but the level was still down by 1.1 million over the year. The employmentpopulation ratio was 48.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, 2.7 percentage points lower than it was a year earlier. Much of the employment decline occurred among those ages 20 to 24.

Unemployment Rises In 2020 As The Country Battles The Covid

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Total civilian employment fell by 8.8 million over the year, as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the economic expansion to a sudden halt, taking a tremendous toll on the U.S. labor market. The unemployment rate increased in 2020, surging to 13.0 percent in the second quarter of the year before easing to 6.7 percent in the fourth quarter. Although some people were able to work at home, the numbers of unemployed on temporary layoff, those working part time for economic reasons, and those unemployed for 27 or more weeks increased sharply over the year.

A decade-long economic expansion ended early in 2020, as the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and efforts to contain it led businesses to suspend operations or close, resulting in a record number of temporary layoffs. The pandemic also prevented many people from looking for work. For the first 2 months of 2020, the economic expansion continued, reaching 128 months, or 42 quarters. This was the longest economic expansion on record before millions of jobs were lost because of the pandemic.1

Total civilian employment, as measured by the Current Population Survey , fell by 21.0 million from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2020, while the unemployment rate more than tripled, from 3.6 percent to 13.0 percent. This was the highest quarterly average unemployment rate in the history of the CPS.2

The CPS and the CES

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The Number Of Americans Receiving Unemployment Dropped By 55% After Labor Day

by Maurie Backman | Published on Oct. 9, 2021

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. Its how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts opinions arent influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

There are a lot fewer people collecting unemployment now than there were a month ago.

When the American Rescue Plan was put into law in mid-March, it did more than pump stimulus checks into millions of bank accounts. It also boosted unemployment by $300 a week and extended federal programs that provided jobless benefits to the self-employed — a group who normally would not be eligible for such aid.

In early September, all of that additional aid expired. Not only did some unemployment recipients lose their $300 weekly boost, but some jobless workers were also kicked off unemployment completely. That extends to independent contractors who are self-employed, as well as the long-term unemployed who became ineligible for further assistance.

All told, once that federal aid ended, the number of people receiving unemployment benefits fell from 11.3 million to just over 5 million, according to data from the Department of Labor. That represents a whopping 55% reduction in the number of recipients.

Comparison Of Employment Recovery Across Recessions And Financial Crises

One method of analyzing the impact of recessions on employment is to measure the period of time it takes to return to the pre-recession employment peak. By this measure, the 20082009 recession was considerably worse than the five other U.S. recessions from 1970 to present. By May 2013, U.S. employment had reached 98% of its pre-recession peak after approximately 60 months. Employment recovery following a combined recession and financial crisis tends to be much longer than a typical recession. For example, it took Norway 8.5 years to return to its pre-recession peak employment after its 1987 financial crisis and it took Sweden 17.8 years after its 1991 financial crisis. The U.S. is recovering considerably faster than either of these countries.

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Further Immigration Expansion And Industrialization

In the North, urbanization and an unprecedented influx of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe supplied a surplus of labor for the country’s industrialization and transformed its culture. National infrastructure, including telegraph and transcontinental railroads, spurred economic growth and greater settlement and development of the American Old West. The later invention of electric light and the telephone would also affect communication and urban life.

The United States fought Indian Wars west of the Mississippi River from 1810 to at least 1890. Most of these conflicts ended with the cession of Native American territory and their confinement to Indian reservations. Additionally, the Trail of Tears in the 1830s exemplified the Indian removal policy that forcibly resettled Indians. This further expanded acreage under mechanical cultivation, increasing surpluses for international markets. Mainland expansion also included the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. In 1893, pro-American elements in Hawaii overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy and formed the Republic of Hawaii, which the U.S. annexed in 1898. Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines were ceded by Spain in the same year, following the SpanishAmerican War.American Samoa was acquired by the United States in 1900 after the end of the Second Samoan Civil War. The U.S. Virgin Islands were purchased from Denmark in 1917.

Why Is There Such A Big Gap In The Data

Millions Of Jobless Americans Lose Federal Pandemic Unemployment Aid

The first thing to understand is how each figure is derived. The 10.1 million unemployed data point comes from a survey of 60,000 households the Census Bureau collects each month. All the adults in the household are asked a series of questions about whether they are employed full or part time, if they are looking for work or if they have given up and stopped looking for a job. To be considered officially unemployed, someone must have searched for a job within the past month.

In normal times, this monthly survey works pretty well, but these are not normal times. Response rates to this survey have fallen during the pandemic, and low-income families that have been hit hardest by the pandemic and job losses have been the least likely to respond, census researchers found.

Another unusual challengeof this pandemic is a lot of people arent sure if they are truly unemployed or just on an extended absence from work. The Labor Department has been open about a misclassification error in which some people who should have been marked as temporarily unemployed were instead classified as employed but absent from work for other reasons. This issue makes the unemployment figures look betterthan they are.

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What To Watch For

The Labor Departments December jobs report is set to be released Friday and should provide a broader picture of the job market, but it wont capture the impact of the latest Covid surge, Moodys Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi wrote in a weekend research note. Economists forecast the U.S. added about 422,000 jobs last month, compared to 210,000 in November, but the Labor Department also surveys around the 12th of each month, meaning it will take a few more weeks before omicrons economic impact is reflected in the data, he said.

Unemployment Is High Why Are Businesses Struggling To Hire

Health concerns, expanded jobless benefits and still being needed at home are among the reasons would-be workers might be staying away.

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There are two distinct, and completely opposite, ways of looking at the American job market.

One would be to consult the data tables produced every month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which suggest a plentiful supply of would-be workers. The unemployment rate is 6 percent, representing 9.7 million Americans who say they are actively looking for work.

Alternately, you could search for news articles mentioning labor shortage. You will find dozens in which businesses, especially in the restaurant and other service industries, say they face a potentially catastrophic inability to hire. The anecdotes come from the biggest metropolitan areas and from small towns, as well as from touristdestinations of all varieties.

If this apparent labor shortage persists, it will have huge implications for the economy in 2021 and beyond. It could act as a brake on growth and cause unnecessary business failures, long lines at remaining businesses, and rising prices.

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Stay Informed On Your States Unemployment Programs

States will continue to run their traditional unemployment programs with varying rules, weekly benefit amounts, and timelines. Make it a priority to keep track of your benefits and closely monitor your states unemployment site for updates.

If you cant make progress with your state unemployment office, you can try contacting your state representative or senator. Connecting with other unemployed workers in your state, often in the form of Facebook groups, can also be an effective way to stay informed about your state unemployment benefits.

The Status Of Us Jobs

Millions of Americans Are Still Waiting to Get Their ...

That is to say, a similar decline in workers desire to pursue jobs matters more when there are plenty of jobs to go around, which is increasingly the case as the economy reopens.

In other research on the expanded jobless benefits, Peter Ganong of the University of Chicago Harris School and five co-authors found a smaller decrease in the inclination to search for jobs than earlier research would have predicted. In other words, those $600 weekly supplements didnt decrease employment very much.

But those were circumstances that may no longer apply.

The goal of government should be to get everyone back to work as soon as possible while continuing to provide economic support to workers who have not gone back to work yet, Mr. Ganong said. Those two things were not in tension in 2020, and they are in tension in 2021. All of those things that made 2020 special are receding, so we now face a more traditional set of trade-offs.

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World War I Great Depression And World War Ii

The United States remained neutral from the outbreak of World War I in 1914 until 1917 when it joined the war as an “associated power” alongside the Allies of World War I, helping to turn the tide against the Central Powers. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson took a leading diplomatic role at the Paris Peace Conference and advocated strongly for the U.S. to join the League of Nations. However, the Senate refused to approve this and did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles that established the League of Nations.

In 1920, the women’s rights movement won passage of a constitutional amendment granting women’s suffrage. The 1920s and 1930s saw the rise of radio for mass communication and the invention of early television. The prosperity of the Roaring Twenties ended with the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression. After his election as president in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt responded with the New Deal. The Great Migration of millions of African Americans out of the American South began before World War I and extended through the 1960s whereas the Dust Bowl of the mid-1930s impoverished many farming communities and spurred a new wave of western migration.

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