Read our guide to understanding New York on PAUSE, NY’s stay-at-home order; a look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.
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In what has become a staggering weekly measure of the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 6.6 million people in the U.S. filed for unemployment claims last week.
Thursday’s report from the U.S. Labor Department represented the second highest weekly jobless claim number in history. Last week’s figure was revised even higher from an original estimate of 6.6 million to 6.9 million.
Altogether more than 16 million people in the country have lost their jobs in a span of three weeks. The prior record for three-week cumulative unemployment claims was 2 million in 1982.
In data that go back to 1948, the lowest share of Americans ever employed is 54.9% in Oct 1949.
So, unless at least 4.1 million Americans were hired over that time, we are at a record low employment-to-population ratio.
— Aaron Sojourner (@aaronsojourner) April 9, 2020
Initial unemployment claims hit 6.6 million last week. Prior week revised up to 6.9 mil.
That takes past 3-weeks cumulative up to just under 17 MILLION. Prior cumulative 3-wk peak: 2 million in late 1982.
Never seen anything like this and policy response MUST be commensurate.
— Jared Bernstein (@econjared) April 9, 2020
Here in New York, another 345,000 people filed for unemployment benefits, 22,000 fewer than last week. The New York State Department of Labor has reported a 16,000 percent increase in phone calls and a nearly 900 percent increase in web traffic, compared to a typical week. The surge of unemployment applications has overwhelmed the agency, which has dedicated 700 people to answer phones and has said it would hire hundreds more. Still, people seeking benefits continue to complain about not being able to get through to the office. The agency is now instructing New Yorkers not to call unless instructed to do so after filling their application online.
On Wednesday, Cuomo announced that New Yorkers filing for unemployment would receive an additional $600 immediately. The period of unemployment benefits will also be extended, from 26 to 39 weeks.
The governor has talked about the need to restart the economy through the use of rapid testing on returning workers, but he has not indicated any timeline.
In recent days, both Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have been increasingly questioned about their response to the pandemic, and whether they were too slow compared to other areas like San Francisco and the state of California, which issued stay-at-home orders before New York.
Cuomo dismissed the criticism on Wednesday, saying “I think New York was early and that the actions we took were more dramatic than most.” However, California announced a stay-at-home order on March 19, one day before New York’s PAUSE plan was announced.
On Thursday morning, Mayor de Blasio was asked on NPR’s Morning Edition whether it was a mistake to have told New Yorkers on March 15th, “If you love your neighborhood bar go there now.” The city had more than 300 confirmed cases by that point.
“No, because I said that literally about a day before they were all about to be shut down,” de Blasio responded.
As of Wednesday evening, more than 80,000 people in New York City have tested positive for COVID-19. At least 4,260 have died across the five boroughs.