The Department of Labor said that 3.2 million people filed initial claims for unemployment for the week ending May 2, meaning that at least 33 million Americans have lost their jobs in a seven-week span.
Initial claims for unemployment have dropped for about the last month, down from a peak of about 6 million unemployment filings in a single week. However, the figures still dwarf those of pre-pandemic averages.
From 2007 to early 2020, the Department of Labor reports that the highest number of new unemployment claims filed was about 665,000. Since local governments began enforcing shutdowns of non-essential businesses, an average of 4.7 million Americans have filed claims per week.
While initial unemployment claims are usually a good indicator of immediate economic health, recent surveys suggest that these figures are actually underestimating the true impact of the pandemic. A recent survey from the Economic Policy Institute indicates that millions of Americans gave up filing for assistance or haven't even tried because they knew systems would be overloaded.