NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — The number of U.S. residents filing unemployment claims for the first time hit 5.24 million this week, a dramatic increase over the same period a year ago but fewer than the 6.6 million who filed a week earlier
According to U.S. Department of Labor's latest report, "The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims and its impact is also reflected in the increasing levels of insured unemployment."
The COVID-related business interruption has wiped out almost all the jobs created since the Great Recession. The new claims increase to more than 21 million the number of U.S. residents who have filed for unemployment benefits in the last four weeks.
These historic and unprecedented numbers continue to blow the minds of economists. According to our research looking at major economists' outlooks and forecasts, these are truly once-in-a-generation numbers.
Most, if not all, economists agree the cure to our economy is controlling the virus. We are seeing a decrease in cases in hotspots like New York City while hearing reports of resurging virus cases as lockdowns ease in places like Singapore.
Specifically, we have seen many reports that states cannot keep up with the demand for unemployment claims and the real number is much higher.
For example, my brother initially attempted to file weeks ago in New York, but the website kept crashing. It has been nearly impossible to apply.
It took him a full week to eventually apply, but he still is waiting to speak to someone at the agency and now, weeks later, he still hasn't been able to file effectively for unemployment. This single example makes us wonder how many other Americans and states are facing similar issues.
Gig workers and independent contractors are also challenged in getting access to claims.
The potential loss of so many jobs is "harrowing" and "fuels our expectation that (unemployment insurance) claims will continue to accrue at historic rates in the near term," a Moody's Investor Services report said. "The harsh reality is that the level of initial UI claims is unlikely to recede dramatically in the coming weeks."
Another interesting statistic shows how many folks were able to pay their rent. According to data from the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) , nearly one-third of Americans didn't pay rent this month.
"The tracker found 69% of households had paid their rent by April 5; this compares to 81% that had paid by March 5, and 82% that had paid by the same time last year," Moody's said.
In the short term, the good news is that it seems the coronavirus isn't hitting doom and gloom death toll forecasts globally and in the U.S.
Also, the injection of federal funds into our economy should yield short-term saves.
The bottom line is this ordeal is a day-to-day situation.
"You are master of your own destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment," American self-help author Napoleon Hill once wrote. "You can make your life what you want it to be."
I think the takeaway from Mr. Hill can be: Let's control what we can control in today's world. Focus on your family, community and business.
Moving forward, we're thankful to all of the front-line workers who continue to sacrifice and show up to work every day and encourage all retail and service businesses to maintain health and safety as the top priority.
Mike Cioffi is the founder of TireTalent.com, a recruiting firm dedicated to the tire industry.