With a startling 6.6 million people seeking jobless benefits last week, the United States has reached a grim landmark: Roughly one in 10 workers have lost their jobs in just the past three weeks.
The figures collectively constitute the largest and fastest string of job losses in records dating to 1948. They paint a picture of a job market that is quickly unraveling as businesses have shut down across the country because of the coronavirus outbreak. More than 20 million American may lose jobs this month.
The viral outbreak is believed to have erased nearly one-third of the economy's output in the current quarter. Forty-eight states have closed non-essential businesses. Restaurants, hotels, department stores and small businesses have laid off millions as they struggle to pay bills at a time when their revenue has vanished.
All told, in the past three weeks, 16.6 million Americans have filed for unemployment aid. The surge of jobless claims has overwhelmed state unemployment offices around the country. And still more job cuts are expected. The unemployment rate could hit 15% when the April employment report is released in early May.
In Southeast Tennessee, 13,578 workers, or nearly one of every 20 workers in the Chattanooga area, filed for jobless claims just last week. Statewide, a record 112,438 Tennesseans filed initial claims for unemployment last week, pushing the number of workers in the state who have lost their jobs and filed for jobless benefits to 246,026 since March 21.
The number will likely keep increasing, in part because many states are still clearing out backlogs of applications for unemployment aid. And with more companies running through their cash cushions as the virus-related shutdowns persist, they are resorting to layoffs to save money.
Up to 50 million jobs are vulnerable to coronavirus-related layoffs, economists say -- about one-third of all the jobs in the United States. That figure is based on a calculation of positions that are deemed non-essential by state and federal governments and that cannot be done from home. It's unlikely all those workers will be laid off or file a jobless claim. But it suggests the extraordinary magnitude of unemployment that could result from the pandemic.
What you need to know about filing for jobless benefits
Tennessee's unemployment insurance program pays weekly jobless benefits ranging from $30 to $275, depending upon the income of the worker who is laid off. The weekly benefit amount is calculated by dividing the sum of the wages earned during the highest quarter of the base period by 26, rounded down to the next lower whole dollar, up to the maximum of $275. For instance, A worker making $500 a week, or $26,000 a year, would be paid $250 a week in jobless benefits in the state program.
The additional $600 weekly federal supplement should be added to the state payment "soon," officials said.
To file a UI claim online: https://www.tn.gov/workforce/unemployment.html
To file a claim by telephone number: 844-224-5818
Coronavirus update: https://www.tn.gov/workforce/covid-19/employees.html
Georgia's unemployment insurance program pays weekly jobless benefits ranging from $44 to $330, depending upon the income of the worker who is laid off. The weekly benefit amount is calculated by combining wages from the two highest quarters in the base period, and dividing that number by 42. For instance, a person making $26,000 a year, or $500 a week, would be paid $309 in jobless benefits in the state program.
Georgia announced this week the additional $600 weekly federal supplement should be added to the state payments
To file a UI claim online: https://www.dol.state.ga.us/WS4-MW5/cics.jsp?TRANSID=UCI1&FRMNAME=UCI1S
To file a claim by telephone number: 404-232-3180
Coronavirus update: https://dol.georgia.gov/gdol-covid-19-information