(The Center Square) – For the sixth consecutive week, Pennsylvania has seen massively inflated numbers for new unemployment claims compared to the data from before the onset of the coronavirus crisis.
Another 131,282 Pennsylvania residents filed for jobless benefits during the week ending April 25, according to the latest numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor. That brings the total for the past six weeks up to about 1.6 million.
In comparison, for the week ending March 14 – the last period before many governors across the nation began to order all nonessential businesses to shut down – Pennsylvania saw just 15,439 new unemployment claims.
The April 25 numbers were a 32 percent decline from the prior week as the economic shutdown forced by the coronavirus continues to hammer the state and national economy.
For the U.S. as a whole, there were about 3.8 million new claims. Over the course of the past six weeks, about 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment.
“The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 12.4 percent for the week ending April 18, an increase of 1.5 percentage points from the previous week's revised rate,” a Department of Labor news release noted. “This marks the highest level of the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate in the history of the seasonally adjusted series.”
Florida led the nation with more than 432,000 new unemployment claims for the week ending April 25, and Washington state had the biggest jump on a percent basis with a 75 percent rise.
Many experts believe the U.S. economy has slipped into recession, although that won’t be definitively determined until there are two consecutive quarters with a decline in GDP, a metric designed to quantify the combined economic output of the nation’s economy.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released Wednesday indicates that the U.S. economy shrank by 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020, the worst such decline since the fourth quarter of 2008 when the nation was headed toward what’s now known as the “Great Recession.”
Many states, including Pennsylvania, are working on implementing phased reopening plans to start allowing some sectors of the economy to begin reopening in the weeks ahead. Gov. Tom Wolf has emphasized that any such reopening would have to be done in such a way that it doesn’t cause a surge in new COVID-19 cases, and signs of such a resurgence would require the return of shutdown restrictions.