Applications for unemployment benefits have jumped to their lowest level in nearly half a century, but only because those numbers don't include unpaid government workers.
More than 25,000 federal employees sought unemployment benefits in the week before Jan. 12, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. That's more than double the 10,500 who filed for unemployment the week earlier — and it could be far higher by now, Politico points out.
The data comes amid a historic lull in unemployment, The Associated Press notes. A seasonally adjusted 199,000 people applied for unemployment aid the week of Jan. 12, the lowest total since November 1969. That number signifies that the economy seems to be holding strong amid a historically long government shutdown. But, as AP notes, that 199,000 total doesn't include federal workers currently furloughed and going unpaid. And as for those 25,000 federal workers, well, that number is two weeks old and has likely ticked up since then, Politico says.
An estimated 800,000 workers have gone unpaid for five weeks under the shutdown, though employees have been promised back pay once it ends. In the meantime, workers have been told to sell their belongings and barter to buy food and pay rent and, when that doesn't work out, been forced to rely on food banks or homeless shelters.