Jobs: Unemployment claims flood the states
An unprecedented surge in claims has overwhelmed state unemployment departments, crashing websites and threatening to deplete trust funds, said David Lieb in the Associated Press. “In Ohio, more than 48,000 people applied for jobless benefits during the first two days of this week”—a stunning increase from just 1,825 in the same period a week earlier. Pennsylvania saw 70,000 applications in one day, “six times the total for the entire previous week.” National predictions were dire, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warning lawmakers that unemployment could hit Great Depression levels of 20 percent without swift intervention.
“The government needs to make sure the hardest-hit families have enough income to keep food on their tables,” said Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers in The New York Times. This recession is not like others. The usual goal in recessions is to get consumers spending. But now millions of businesses are closing “to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus.” The White House is pushing for a payroll tax cut, but that does nothing for people who are out of work. We need to expand eligibility for unemployment insurance and include independent contractors. Business can’t resume if there’s a “wave of ruined credit scores, home foreclosures, and bankruptcies.” ■