The impact of the economic shutdown in the U.S. caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was shown accelerating Thursday when the latest tally of Americans applying for unemployment benefits spiked to 6.648 million, more than doubling last week’s all-time high.
The latest weekly number dwarfs, by far, the largest halt to employment seen during the 2008 financial crisis, which never topped 700,000.
Digging further into the disastrous 6.648 million headline number reveals a slowdown that hit some states harder than others. Last week’s 3.3 million number was mainly led by a surge on a percentage basis in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and one state hard hit by coronavirus cases in Louisiana.
This week, however, it was neighboring Southern states like Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi showing the largest percentage gains in people applying for unemployment insurance. California and New York led the nation from a sheer numbers perspective, but unlike last week, also showed some of the largest percentage gains in applications with claims jumping 371% and 358% week-over-week, respectively.
The changes from last week to this week indicate there is more room for total unemployment claims to continue rising. One high-population state in particular, Texas, was late to follow the state-wide shelter in place orders like those seen in California and New York. Even in his press conference Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott resisted referring to his executive order as a “shelter in place” order.
In this week’s reading Texas only saw a 77% jump to unemployment claims after being one of the less impacted states in last week’s then-record reading. As the order trickles through that economy, it could see another surge of applicants in the hundreds of thousands if it follows the same trajectory of California and New York.